Keith Gill

What do you see FREECANDY’s (a multi-arts venue/gathering space/ home for artists) role as in the city?

We like to think of FREECANDY as what the offspring of a weird Paradise Garage, CBGB, and MoMA 3-way would be (hot right?). As a physical space, we want FREECANDY to be a center for artistic discovery – a place where people of creativity meet and are inspired to produce. It’s an environment we try to make comfortable for both artist and arts appreciator.

How does the exchange between community, artists, businesses that happen at FREECANDY affect its programming and the evolution of its vision?

Community as I see it consists of people whose day to day lives affect each other directly. That exchange definitely has an effect on our programming. We take great lengths to make sure the artists, musicians, and events we feature are built using local talent, business services, and creative collaboration with local arts organizations. I believe FREECANDY’s role in this exchange is that of facilitator. As an example, the local community can come and enjoy live music and visual art for free at our “FREE Market” events, which brings together and supports local artists, artisans and businesses.

How does this sense of community ownership and involvement affect you as a curator and program director?

I’m a Brooklyn boy, born and raised. I’m from the community we serve. I went to high school (Brooklyn Tech) right down the block. I’m from here. I live here. I work here. I’m also part of a larger community of artists and innovators. I belong to both, and as such, I am also servant to both. The service I do (and it’s very important to me) is providing access for my arts community into my local community, and vice versa. So that is definitely in front of mind when we curate art exhibits, pick musical talent, and choose organizations to partner with.

Welcoming a cross-arts approach and inclusiveness of community is the opposite of segregation in the arts. Where do you see this going? Do you think it’s a moment in time, a representation of our era, or is it part of a larger, long-term shift in our culture?

Information is consumed now at increasingly higher speeds and volume. People are bombarded with different messages, ideas, and entertainment. The world of art is no different and should be keeping pace (if not out-running) the changes in society. Going to see your favorite band perform, and then being surprised to encounter great visual art work at the same place, is an example of what has been most effective to our goal of discovery. It’s that cross-pollination that is most effective in opening the conversation between the expected and the welcomed unexpected. I think the major arts revolutions come at times of financial upheaval. The repressed global financial situation has been a quiet blessing for the arts community. It has forced people to be more creative in just managing their day-to-day lives, and in so doing, has made more people aware of their own artistic ability and/or interest. Ha! Everything is a moment in time. The question is, how long can that moment endure? Nothing is really ever lost or finished within the arts. Each era builds upon the last. This paradigm shift will just be used as a foundation for the next shift. I want to see more syncing of artistic mediums, and it’s my goal to participate in the creation of that new paradigm.


Originally from Brooklyn, Keith R. Gill is a graduate of Howard University, Washington DC. He has worked as a brand strategist in both the US and in Greece. In 2007, Gill helped form FREE DMC, a boutique influencer marketing, branding, and experimental events company. After assisting in the launch of InfluencerCon, Gill lent his efforts to the formation of FREECANDY, a live music and arts gallery where he currently is General Manager and Gallery Director. Gill is also a film producer and founder/editor of the digital magazine The Bubblegum Experience.

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